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In historic vote, gay man confirmed as US Secretary of the Army

In historic vote, gay man confirmed as US Secretary of the Army

Eric Fanning had to wait more than seven months to be confirmed by the US Senate

Eric Fanning has became the first openly gay US Secretary of the Army in history.

Fanning was finally confirmed by the US Senate in a unanimous voice vote on Tuesday (17 May) after a lengthy delay in the confirmation process.

He had been nominated by President Barack Obama back in September and is now the first openly gay head of any service in the US military.

His nomination last fall came just five years after the historic end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). That law prohibited gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving in the US armed forces openly.

The military is now preparing to move forward to lift the ban on transgender service in the military.

‘Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces,’ Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

Fanning became Acting Secretary in October when John McHugh left the job. But he stepped down as Acting Secretary in January after some senators said that his being Acting Secretary could violate rules while he is still undergoing the confirmation process.

He temporarily went to work in the office of the secretary of defense.

Fanning had Defense Department jobs spanning several military branches.

He has served as Air Force under secretary, deputy under secretary of the Navy and deputy chief management officer of the Navy. Fanning most recently had been acting under secretary of the Army and is a close civilian adviser to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.

‘Eric’s sexual orientation has absolutely no bearing on his ability to do this job; nor was it the reason for his nomination,’ said Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, a non-profit group dedicated to bringing full LGBT equality to the US military

‘But this milestone of having an openly gay individual in this high level position within the Department of Defense will help to continue to set a tone of understanding and respect for the LGBT community throughout the armed services.’